As Malawi elected leaders and others are lavishing course after course of meals, a law maker for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Dr Chidanti Malunga has drawn the attention of parliament that there is a food crisis and millions of Malawian now cannot afford a decent meal.
Malunga who is MP for Nsanje South West, told parliament this week that people in his constituency and other parts of the country are starving.
“For more than three months now, we in this House have been talking about looming hunger in the country. I am afraid, Mr Second Deputy Speaker, Sir, that in Nsanje South West, the situation is very scary. Hunger is no longer looming. It is a reality, and there is hunger now,” said Malunga.
Malunga told the House that he visited villages in his constituency and found” appalling and pathetic” levels of suffering of the people.
“I found some people eating water lilies. Water lily is an aquatic plant scientifically known as Nymphaea Odorata locally known as Nyika. For those of you who do not know, I have carried some and I would like the cameras to show this,” said Malunga.
He showed Nyika, a water lily to the House, saying “these are the roots.”
“It is very sad that some Malawians will have to eat this, while others are enjoying elsewhere,” lamented the parliamentarian.
He said for the entire weekend that he visited his constituency; there is no maize at any of the two ADMARC markets that serve area.
He asked for information “if there is anyone in this House who can truthfully stand up and tell us, the people of Nsanje South West, where we are exactly with the maize purchase. We need to know.”
Malunga continued: “One may ask why has the situation in Nsanje South West changed from looming to reality, quicker than the rest of the [flood] disaster areas?”
He explained that Nsanje South West is made up of two ecological zones, the aquatic zone, which accounts for about 40 per cent of the constituency and where it is prone to flooding and the terrestrial zone accounting for about 60 per cent of the constituency, where it is prone to drought.
Malunga said both of the zones are subject to agricultural activities, which under normal circumstances complement each other in a year but the 2015 season, the situation was different as both zones were hit by natural disasters.
“There was flooding in the aquatic zone and drought in the terrestrial zone, consequently, leading to serious food shortage,” he noted
“For example, maize that is largely grown in the transition areas between the aquatic zone and the terrestrial zone had reduced in yield by about 38 per cent in May, 2015, compared to the same period last year.
“Millet, largely grown in the terrestrial areas, has been reduced by 58 per cent under the same comparison,” he said, calling the figures “alarming.”
Malunga stressed that Nsanje South West is one of the areas requiring immediate food assistance.
“My appeal to government is to ask if they can respond to the situation as soon as possible.”
Commenting on the issue, Leader of the House Francis Kasaila said the country has enough maize to keep it going through the lean period.
He said there is “enough grain reserves in our storage facilities [at Kanengo in Lilongwe].”
But his statement attracted interjection as the Leader of Peoples Party (PP) in the House, Uladi Mussa stood on a point of order.
Mussa, who is MP for Salima South said Kasaila was “out of order” to say that maize is available at Kanengo, yet people are suffering in Nsanje.
“For maize to be at Kanengo is one thing; and for that maize to be available to the people who are suffering is another,” said Mussa.
Kasaila then said: “in far as the information that I have as a Minister is that we have enough grain in our reserves. What is the problem here? In the opinion of government it is that there is a lack of coordination. As leaders, if we know that there is a problem in our constituencies, let us take it upon ourselves to consult the relevant ministries so that we are assisted.”
He advised Malunga that “information has been taken care of and maize will be made available to Nsanje South West. “Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :